Rarely have I seen such a motivated team as the one working on our Nokia Saving Lives project. It’s huge when you feel your work can truly make a difference and in this case, we’re solving connectivity problems to help save lives. My colleague, Marc Rouanne blogged about the progress of the Nokia Saving Lives (NSL) project in March, reporting on our convincing win at the Dubai Drones for good award event. And there’s been exciting progress since, which I’d like to share involving our first live experiences with the solution in the city of Kotka, Finland as well as a sneak preview on what we’re planning to do next.
The NSL project was launched a year ago and since then has attracted a lot of love and attention. And no wonder. It’s one of those rare projects that combines the best in breed and truly embodies our commitment to deploy sustainable technologies that make a real difference to people’s lives. This innovation project expanded Nokia’s focus from improving people's lives to help saving lives. There has been a lot of activity, cooperation and milestones during this first year, but here are the three most visible to the outside world.
Our first public event was the concept demo launched in September 2016 at our Nokia headquarters in Espoo. With the support of the local voluntary fire fighter team, we managed to demonstrate to the various attending authorities, government agencies and NGOs what we want to achieve.
The next public appearance was already on a significantly grander scale and the project at a more mature stage, earning a first prize at the Dubai Drones for Good event in the international category.
Last month saw our first real life experience at Finland’s Stora Enso pulp mill in Kotka, with a disaster recovery rehearsal organized by the factory fire department and the Kymenlaakso Fire & Rescue department. The rehearsal was arranged according to the EU SEVESO Directive to ensure the appropriate level of preparedness by live testing of the emergency plans. This directive applies to over 10,000 industrial establishments in the European Union, where dangerous substances are used or stored in large quantities, mainly in the chemical, petrochemical, logistics and metal refining sectors.
Drones were employed successfully in several use cases during the rehearsal
The first mission focused on a water rescue with live video stream from the automated drones to help locate a missing person at the sea. A loudspeaker drone informed the victim that help is on the way and another UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) delivered a first aid kit to him. After the location was identified by the drones, the first responders could be dispatched for rescue.
In the second mission, the drones made an inspection flight over the factory area and identified a chemical leakage over one of the factory buildings, enabling the rescue team commander to coordinate and monitor evacuation progress of the area. Next up for the project will be to bring this innovative technology into real emergency support use. Such use requires tested and hardened technology (UAVs, payloads, rescue applications, application control center and LTE (4G) portable network. And that’s exactly what we intend to do. We will then secure agreement on roll-out with partners in the humanitarian field for those countries most at risk to be hit by natural disasters. Likewise, we’ll aim to secure agreement with local mobile network operator(s) to support the use of the solution in their frequency range and coordinate with GSMA* about the possibility to centrally manage spectrum availability in catastrophe areas. We will also continue to investigate the possibilities of unlicensed and shared spectrum and creating private LTE networks in disaster areas.
I’m also thrilled to report that the Nokia Saving Lives has already inspired a kind of a spin off in the form of a humanitarian aid category now included within the Nokia Open Innovation Challenge 2017, just launched on June 7th.
I’m boldly confident that by the end of this year, the NSL project team will have a reliable technical solution ready for use with our partner organizations. And frankly, I can’t say it any better than Marc did in his blog that : “This is Nokia innovation solving connectivity problems to make people’s lives better. Enabling communications, improving emergency response, and saving lives. This is technology at the service of people.”
Nokia Saving Lives in brief:
- Nokia Saving Lives is an innovation project combining best in breed
- Special purpose drones – weatherproof, special payloads and connected via LTE for control, broadband applications and traffic management
- Portable LTE network for highly reliable broadband communication to drones and rescue teams in the disaster zone
- Data analysis in a Rescue Application Center providing indicators for high risk and priority topics
- Embedded onsite support to operate the technology and operator support in frequency use
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* Also see GSMA annual report: Humanitarian Connectivity Charter